In the academic arena, the studies conducted by the earliest scholars are sometimes subjected to refutation when they fail to address the problems they are deemed to solve. Some of the studies which have been subjected to criticisms and later termed as invalid are theories. The theory is based on someone ideas and notions whereby he or she tries to justify a certain argument using the argumentative ideas. Given the conditions and process by which the justification and the acceptance of the theory arrive at it becomes easy to be disputed by the studies which have been carried using different tools or researched in a different environment. This paper seeks to discuss the paradigm of theory shift using an example of Management Science Theory by Frederick W. Taylor by the argument that “Scientific Management School has given way to Quantitative Management."
Scientific Management Theory was developed and advanced in North America by Taylor between 1856 and 1915. The theory was commonly known to use management science approach to solving problems. It was also known as quantitative approach and helped managers in making decisions when managing the employees as well as the activities and the operations of the organization (Bryson, 1990, p. 23). Upon its eruption, it became very common, and it was applied in almost each industry as the managers tried to implement its aspects in their management functions. Even in the modern business, its concepts especially the quantitative analysis aspect is being applied by many of the industries. However, the theory has deemed to be invalid because it cannot address all the management functions of the organization. Its inability to meet the qualitative aspects of the employees led to its disputation, and it was replaced with other more valid theories. Besides, it resulted to other theorists to identify gaps in Taylor's theory.
The quantitative management theory is the most current all the three major schools of management. The development of the quantitative theory can be traced back to the period of World War II. It came as a result when the scientists, government official and the managers came together to find a way to find a solution on how they could help fighters in deploying and allocating resources in a more efficient and effective manner. However, it should be noted that quantitative management theory was not fully a new theory but the continuation of the management science theory (Guillén, 2006, p. 15). This is because the theory largely used some of the concepts which were associated with the scientific management theory. For instance, the deployment of the submarine, equipment and the troops was arrived at by the use of mathematical and statistical analysis. Both mathematical and statistical models were linked with the scientific management theory.
However, the quantitative management appeared more comprehensive, reliable and valid than scientific management theory and thus rendering the management school of thought invalid. The inability of the scientific management theory models to address the organization problems effectively led to the question by some of the scholars. For example, it was challenged by human relations approach by Elton Mayo for not being able to understand the importance of employee other need apart from financial needs while in the workplace. This theory seemed to fully eliminate the aspect of science management of terming human beings as totally economic (Bryson, 1990, p. 45). Elton Mayo advocated that there was a need to understand human psychological needs by establishing conducive relations between the organization employees and the management. Human relations rendered scientific management fully invalid through the experiment of the Hawthorne studies. This study was carried to a significant number women in the Electric Company. The objective of the study investigated the relationship between workplace environmental conditions and job performance. The results of the study were that favorable working conditions were direct proportional employees productivity. The study found that in addition to embracing employees financial needs it is crucial to appreciate employees qualitative traits such as emotions, attitudes, and feelings. Besides quantitative management theory and human relations, also other theories such as Administrative Theory by Henry Fayol and Bureaucratic Theory by Max Weber (Witzel & Warner, 2015, p. 6).
Paradigm shift entails modification of a theory or change in science. Similarly, management science has gone changes since its eruption (Dejan, 1978, p. 86). Several researchers, as well as theorists, have advanced Taylor's theory while others have continued to disputes its validity and relevance. For example, Henry Fayol's theory of Administrative Management refuted Taylor's ideology of "one best way" by arguing that there are ways of integrating all the tasks in the event organizational operations. This was the beginning of the shifting of the scientific management theory. Despite the fact that that Henry Fayol's theory also received criticisms, but it was the pioneer of the long journey of proving the irrelevance of scientific management theory.
Another theory by Max Weber also played a critical role in disputing the science management school of thought. Weber and his Bureaucratic theory introduced the aspect of acknowledging and embracing employees’ duties as well as their rights. Besides, he came up with the aspect of recognizing the employees’ improvement in the job performance through promotions. Weber's theory introduced the aspect of identifying qualitative traits among the employees thus further weakening the scientific management theory. Even in the modern business environment the aspects and concepts of the Bureaucratic theory are quite evident. Therefore, scientific management theory has been a perfect example of how the science or theory can undergo a paradigm shift. Although the theory has gone through this process in bits, finally it has come out clearly that some of its aspects are totally invalid and inapplicable in the work setting.
Bryson, J., 1990. Effective Library and Information Centre Management. England: Gower.
Dejan, W. L., 1978. Principles of' Management: Text and Cases. California: The Benjamin.
Guillén, M., 2006. The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical: Scientific Management and the Rise of Modern Architecture, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Witzel, M. & Warner, M., 2015. Taylorism Revised: Culture, Management Theory & Paradigm-Shift, London: University of Cambridge.
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